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Gender Pay Gap

Volume 606: debated on Thursday 25 February 2016

We are committed to closing the gender pay gap within a generation. This is important not only for women, but for business, prosperity and the health of the UK economy. That is why from next April we are requiring large employers to publish their gender pay gap, and why we have been working very closely with business to help deliver this.

I thank the Minister for that answer and welcome the steps that are being made, but will she join me in commending the Scottish Government for laying regulations in Holyrood to extend the requirement on public authorities with more than 20 employees to publish information on their gender pay gap and equal pay statements?

Yes, we are always keen to take on board any information we can gather from anywhere that tackles the gender pay gap. We are consulting on the issue and we will shortly announce what we intend to do in respect of the public sector.

As the father of a growing number of daughters, it is important to me that women can enjoy exactly the same level of career advancement as men, which they clearly do not. Many experts and leading female CEOs of international companies believe that the lead indicator is not the gender pay gap, but the level of career advancement for women. Will the Government consider looking in future into whether major companies could report the percentage of men and women at every stage within their organisation to help change the culture?

This legislation will require businesses to show how many people are employed at the different sectors of their organisations. However, my hon. Friend is right that this starts right from the beginning when girls are given careers advice about which businesses and sectors they should aim to get into. We need to get away from the idea that there are “girls’ jobs” and “boys’ jobs.” There are just “jobs.”

I have recently put a series of parliamentary questions to every Government Department on the gender pay gap, and every Government Department that has answered to date has shown that there is a gender pay gap. What is the Minister going to do about the situation on her own watch?

Public sector employers will also be required to publish their gender pay gap statistics. It is a subject that we take very seriously. Nobody will be left unaffected by the legislation.

I wonder whether this legislation will be broad enough to help a constituent of mine who recently separated from her boyfriend. She now has a “To Let” sign outside her house at 102 Church Drive, Shirebrook because she works for Mike Ashley at Sports Direct on a zero-hours contract. I think that is disgraceful, and I would like to see legislation that ensures that employers who operate zero-hours contracts cannot put women such as my constituent in jeopardy so that they lose the roof over their heads.

Unlike the last Labour Government, we have taken steps to address the issue of zero-hours contracts, and those who apply them will be included in the legislation.